Introduction to shinyjqui

Yang Tang


The shinyjqui package provides functions to give shiny ui mouse-interactions and animation effects. This vignette provides some general introductions and examples.

Mouse interactions

There are five kinds of mouse interactions in jQuery UI library:

Here are the corresponding R wrappers in shinyjqui:

Functions Description Where_to_use
jqui_draggable Enable or disable element’s draggable interaction. server
jqui_draggabled Initialize an element as draggable. ui
jqui_droppable Enable or disable element’s droppable interaction. server
jqui_droppabled Initialize an element as droppable. ui
jqui_resizable Enable or disable element’s resizable interaction. server
jqui_resizabled Initialize an element as resizable. ui
jqui_selectable Enable or disable element’s selectable interaction. server
jqui_selectabled Initialize an element as selectable. ui
jqui_sortable Enable or disable element’s sortable interaction. server
jqui_sortabled Initialize an element as sortable. ui

For each interaction, there are two functions: -able() and -abled(). They both can make a shiny html element interactive, but should be used in different places. The -abled() functions are designed to be used in ui of a shiny app. They return a modified element (tag, tagList, input or output) with interaction enabled. The -able() functions modify the interactivity of existing (pre-defined in ui) elements and therefore should be placed in server of a shiny app. For example, you can make a textInput draggable either in this way:

# in shiny ui
jqui_draggabled(textInput('input', 'Input'))

or in this way:

# in shiny ui
textInput('input', 'Input')

# in shiny server, either outside or in observe() or ovservEvent()
jqui_draggable(selector = '#input')

The advantiage of the second way is that you can control the element’s interactivity reactivly by calling the -able() functions inside an observe() or ovservEvent(). The -able() functions use jQuery selector to identify which element to act on. In the above example, the selector #input refers to the element with id input. You can also use class name to select multiple elements, e.g., to make all the shiny inputs draggable by jqui_draggable(selector = '.shiny-bound-input').

For -abled() functions, to make multiple elements interactive, you can use tagList():

# in shiny ui, make each element in the tagList draggable
  selectInput('sel', 'Select', choices =,
  checkboxGroupInput('chbox', 'Checkbox', choices =,
  plotOutput('plot', width = '400px', height = '400px')

The -able() functions have a switch parameter. Set it as FALSE to disable the interaction of an element:

# in shiny server
jqui_draggable(selector = '#input', switch = FALSE)

Both -able() and -abled() functions have an options parameter to accept interaction-specific options. You can find available options on jQuery UI’s API Documentation page. Some examples about these options are listed in the next few sections.

Once an interaction is turned on and if the target element has an id, you can get access to some pre-defined interaction-specific shiny input values through input$id_suffix, where the id is the id of target element (id attribute for shiny tag, inputId for shiny inputs, outputId for shiny outputs) and the suffix depends on the type of interaction enabled. Please see the following table:

Interaction_type suffix The_returned_shiny_input_value
draggable position A list of the element’s left and top distances (in pixels) to its parent element
draggable is_dragging TRUE or FALSE that indicate whether the element is dragging
droppable dragging The id of an acceptable element that is now dragging
droppable over The id of the last acceptable element that is dragged over
droppable drop The id of the last acceptable element that is dropped
droppable dropped The ids of all acceptable elements that is currently dropped
droppable out The id of the last acceptable element that is dragged out
resizable size A list of the element’s current size
resizable is_resizing TRUE or FALSE that indicate whether the element is resizing
selectable selected A dataframe containing the id and innerHTML of curently selected elements
selectable is_selecting TRUE or FALSE that indicate whether the element is selecting (e.g. during lasso selection)
sortable order A dataframe containing the id and innerHTML of curently order of elements

You can even customize these shiny input values by including a shiny option in the options parameter. Create a shiny option in the following format, then combine it with other interaction-specific options before passing to the options parameter:

shiny_opt = list(
  # define shiny input value input$id_suffix1
  suffix1 = list(
    # on event_type1 run callback1 and send the returned value to input$id_suffix1
    event_type1 = JS(callback1),
    # on event_type2 run callback2 and send the returned value to input$id_suffix1
    event_type2 = JS(callback2),
  # define shiny input value input$id_suffix2
  suffix2 = list(
  # define other shiny input values

# pass the shiny option to draggable
jqui_draggable('#foo', options = list(
  shiny = shiny_opt, 
  #other draggable-specific options

Each element of the shiny option list is also a list that define a shiny input value. Its name is used as siffix in input$id_suffix. Within that list, there are multiple JS wrapped javascript callback functions named with corresponding event types. The event triggers the callback to run and the returned value is used to update the shiny input value. The valid event types for each interactions can be found in the API Documentation of jQuery UI. The callcack functions take two arguments, event and ui. The definition of the ui argument can also be found in that document too. Here is a simple example:

# server
jqui_draggable('#foo', options = list(
  shiny = list(
    # By default, draggable element has a shiny input value showing the element's 
    # position (relative to the parent element). Here, another shiny input
    # value is added. It gives the element's offset (position relative to the 
    # document). Using input$foo_offset to get access to it . 
    offset = list(
      # return the initiated offset value when the draggable is created
      dragcreate = JS('function(event, ui) { return $(; }'),
      # update the offset value while dragging
      drag = JS('function(event, ui) { return $(; }')

When customizing shiny input values by shiny option and callbacks, you may want to get the id of certain element in javascript. For simple shiny tag (e.g. tags$div), element.attr("id") just works fine, but it dosen’t work for shiny inputs (e.g. textInput). The id arribute of most shiny inputs is hidden inside a div container. You have to use .find() to locate it. The shinyjqui package comes with an internal javascript function shinyjqui.getId() which will take care of this. You can just simply pass in any shiny element, either simple tag, shiny input or shiny output. It will use the appropriate way to find out the id.

The following are some examples for each iteractions.


Draggable element can be moved by mouse. You can custom its movement by some options:

# drag only horizontally
jqui_draggable('#foo', options = list(axis = 'x'))
# make movement snapping to a 80 x 80 grid
jqui_draggable('#foo', options = list(grid = c(80, 80)))


With the droppable interaction enabled, the element can sense the behavior of accepted draggable elements and make changes (e.g. change display style) accordingly:

jqui_droppable('#foo', options = list(
  accept = '#bar', # jQuery selector to define which draggable element to monitor. Accept anything if not set.
  classes = list(
    `ui-droppable-active` = 'ui-state-focus', # change class when draggable element is dragging
    `ui-droppable-hover` = 'ui-state-highlight' # change class when draggable element is dragging over
  drop = JS(
    'function(event, ui){$(this).addClass("ui-state-active");}'
  ) # a javascrip callback to change class when draggable element is dropped in

Note: When passing a javascrip callback function to the opations parameter, please wrap it with JS() so that it can be evaled correctly.


You can change the size of a resizable element by dragging the resize-handles around it. Several examples are listed here:

# keep aspect ratio when resizing
jqui_resizable('#foo', options = list(aspectRatio = TRUE))

# Limit the resizable element to a maximum or minimum height or width
jqui_resizable('#foo', options = list(minHeight = 100, maxHeight = 300,
                                      minWidth = 200, maxWidth = 400))

# make the two plotOutputs resize synchronously
jqui_resizabled(plotOutput('plot1', width = '400px', height = '400px'), 
                  options = list(alsoResize = '#plot2')),
plotOutput('plot2', width = '400px', height = '400px')


The selectable interaction make target element’s children selectable. You can select by click, Ctrl+click or dragging a box (lasso selection). The selected elements may change display styles if specified in options:

# highlight the selected plotOutput
    plotOutput('plot1', width = '400px', height = '400px'),
    plotOutput('plot2', width = '400px', height = '400px')
  options = list(classes = list(`ui-selected` = 'ui-state-highlight'))


The sortable interaction makes target element’s children sortable. You can re-arrange them by drag and drop. Some examples here:

# change opacity while sorting
jqui_sortable('#foo', options = list(opacity = 0.5))

# only items with class "items" inside the element become sortable
jqui_sortable('#foo', options = list(items = '> .items'))

# connect two sortable elements, so that items in one element can be dragged to another
jqui_sortable('#foo1', options = list(connectWith = '#foo2'))
jqui_sortable('#foo2', options = list(connectWith = '#foo1'))

shinyjqui has a function called orderInput() which takes advantage of sortable interaction. You can use it to display a list of items in shiny and can change their order by drag and drop. The changed items order is send back to server as an input value. Please see the Vignette orderInput for details.

Animation effects

jQuery UI library comes with 15 internal animation effects. You can get a full list of them by R function get_jqui_effects():

##  [1] "blind"     "bounce"    "clip"      "drop"      "explode"  
##  [6] "fade"      "fold"      "highlight" "puff"      "pulsate"  
## [11] "scale"     "shake"     "size"      "slide"     "transfer"

There is a live demo for each effect here. By use following functions, you can apply these effects to a shiny element:

Functions Description Where_to_use
jqui_effect Let element(s) to show an animation immediately. server
jqui_show Display hidden element(s) with an animation server
jqui_hide Hide element(s) with an animation server
jqui_toggle Display or hide element(s) with an animation server

The above three functions use jQuery selector to locate the target element(s) and should be used in server.

The effect parameter accept a string that defines which animation effect to apply. Note: The transfer effect can only be used in jqui_effect().

The options parameter accept a list of effect specific options. Please find more details here.

The complete parameter accept a javascript callback function which will be called after the animation. Please wrap it with JS().

Here are some examples:

# ui
plotOutput('foo', width = '400px', height = '400px')

# server
jqui_effect('#foo', effect = 'bounce') # bounces the plot
jqui_effect('#foo', effect = 'scale', options = list(percent = 50)) # scale to 50%
jqui_hide('#foo', effect = 'size', options = list(width = 200, height = 60)) # resize then hide
jqui_show('#foo', effect = 'clip') # show the plot by clipping

Classes animation

These functions can be used to change shiny element’s class(es) while animating all style changes:

Functions Description Where_to_use
jqui_add_class Add class(es) to element(s) while animating all style changes. server
jqui_remove_class Remove class(es) from element(s) while animating all style changes. server
jqui_switch_class Add and remove class(es) to element(s) while animating all style changes. server

Similar to the animation effects functions, these functions need a jQuery selector and please use them in server.

The easing parameter defines the speed style of the animation progresses. More details can be found here